The man they call ‘Speedy’ Terry

Nick Walton

Sophomore finds himself in starting role

Jaquise Terry has always been fast.

At the age of 7 in the state of Alabama, Terry earned the nickname that epitomizes his biggest asset on the football field.

“When I was playing Pee Wee football, I used to do kick returns, and my coach said, ‘Man, that guy’s speedy,'” Terry said. “Ever since then the nickname Speedy’s been through middle school, high school, and it even carried up here to college.”

Terry began his collegiate career last season as a backup behind senior running back Eugene Jarvis and junior running back Andre Flowers. An ankle injury to Jarvis forced Kent State to give Terry more playing time.

Terry responded with 170 rushing yards on 34 carries and one touchdown.

“It was a tough transition being on the sideline one week and the next week getting half of the reps,” Terry said. “It was a fun experience, knowing that you’re coming in as a freshman and helping your team win.”

With Jarvis and Flowers returning in the backfield, Terry came into this season as a wide receiver.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said he wanted to get Terry as many touches as possible, even if that meant moving him to a new position.

“Obviously with Eugene Jarvis on the field at running back he wasn’t getting on the field enough,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “We looked out and thought, ‘Well, we can put him at wide receiver, and he can beat some of those guys out,’ and he did.”

After Jarvis was sidelined in Kent State’s second game for the rest of the season with a kidney injury, Terry was told he would return to running back. Terry took Jarvis’ injury as a challenge to help the team.

“I knew I would be in the running for the starting position,” Terry said. “I just took that as a challenge to go out there and see if I could be a leader and carry my team on my back.”

In just three games this season, Terry already leads the Flashes in rushing with 293 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Terry is also averaging 6.5 yards per carry this season.

“He’s got a great ability to make the first tackler miss,” Martin said. “He does have great speed, so if he does get in the open field, it’s going to be an explosion run, and that’s the big thing with him. He’s taking a 5-yard run and turning it into a 15-yard run. “

Running backs coach Jerry McManus said Terry’s production on the field is a result of training in the offseason. McManus said Terry’s combination of vision and speed has also helped him this season.

“I think the thing that he’s increased from last year is he’s more physical,” McManus said. “Coming out of high school, he wasn’t really that strong. He still needs to get even stronger to take some of those tackles and run harder in-between the tackles.”

Similar to Terry last season, freshman running back Dri Archer is adjusting to playing on the collegiate level. Terry and the other running backs are working together to help him make the transition.

“He’s helped me a lot because last year he came in as a freshman, and he started, too,” Archer said. “That meant a lot to me, so I was looking up to him a lot. He was showing me a lot of things he was doing last year to improve.”

Archer has 109 rushing yards, two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

Despite not racing against each other, Archer said he is faster than Terry.

“If I was just basing it on track times that I’ve seen when Dri is running track, it’s off the charts,” McManus said. “I would have to say that Dri would probably have the edge, but you never know; Speedy’s such a competitor, anything can happen.”

Terry said Archer, junior running back Anthony Bowman and senior wide receiver Derek McBryde are faster than him.

“Guys around the team joke around and say ‘Hey, you’re not that speedy. I’m faster than you,'” Terry said.

McManus, who said Terry is one of the most dependable players he’s ever coached, said he believes Terry can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to on or off the field.

“I have no worries about Jacquise Terry,” McManus said. “He has one of the highest GPAs on our team. I just know he’s going to be a success in whatever he does in life.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].